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'Why do so many Americans drop out of college?'

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    The Atlantic is quickly becoming my absolute go-to site for Web commentary. It used to be Slate, but I think The Atlantic is better.


    According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, just 46 percent of Americans complete college once they start, worst among the 18 countries it tracks.

    Thinking about my core group of high school friends:

    Friend 1: Graduated from mechanic's school.

    Friend 2: Went away to college one year to play baseball. Dropped out to come home and help with his child. Took some classes at local commuter college, but never made progress. Union pipefitter today. Makes good money when there's work.

    Friend 3: Four-year degree and MBA. Good job today.

    Friend 4: Four-year degree - went to school with Friend 3. Studio photographer today.

    Friend 5: Attended some classes here and there. Dropped out. Plumber today after a few years in retail.

    Friend 6: Attended some classes here and there. Dropped out. Does OK in a blue-collar job today. Took a loooooong time to find work, though. Probably unemployed for three straight years in his early- to mid-20s.

    Friend 7: Attended local commuter school and graduated. Does shift work at an industry job. Unemployed way too much.

    Friend 8: Associate's degree from local commuter school. Job in same industry as Friend 7, though seems to be unemployed less often.

    Friend 9: Never attended a day of college. Lived in California for a while, working in the video game industry. Moved back and does well in a creative job. Smart as hell. Creative as hell. Entrepreneurial. The kind that doesn't need a degree to succeed.

    So nine guys, basically. Eight of them attended at least some college. Three four-year degrees. Two two-year degrees. One graduate degree.
  2. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    I'd guess that cost is the probably the overriding factor in why most students don't finish college.
  3. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    I think it's that everybody goes but not everybody belongs in the first place.
  4. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I think a lot of people also just don't have a plan.

    You can go to a commuter school relatively cheaply. But the cost in time just doesn't seem worth it when you have friends already with money in their pocket, their own apartment, a semi-nice car, etc., etc.
  5. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    They have drop out because they ran out of money after spending $1 on a lottery ticket
  6. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Hey, I bought one this time. Today, we are all Dooley_Womacks.
  7. Zeke12

    Zeke12 Guest

    The cost leads to people taking more and more time to graduate as they work AND go to school, which leads to them having less of a connection to campus and campus life and leaves them with more exit points spread out over a longer time period.

    Completely ridiculous and byzantine requirements don't help, but it's mostly that.
  8. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    I disagree. The overriding factor from my perspective is that so many of them don't really belong there. Even in a dinky school college can be a hard slog. When you're not prepared, and you're not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to overcome your unpreparedness, you're going to be a casualty.

    I have many, many students who work basically full-time jobs and also go to school. Because these are juniors and seniors, they're going to make it. But I am astounded at the proportion who work full-time (or close to it) when, really, it's not necessary. They drive a nicer car than me (well, that's not saying much, almost everybody does!), they have all the latest and greatest gadgets, they choose to have the apartment (rather than the dorm or the stay-at-home option), etc. Thus many (not all, but many) have chosen (and continue to choose) to maneuver themselves into positions in which the only way they can keep the juggling act alive is to work full-time. And of course, the full-time job that comes with a paycheck is a higher priority than the full-time job that doesn't. So unless a given student is pretty doggone sharp, any chinks in his/preparedness are going to be magnified over time.
  9. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    You're greatly overestimating the impact of work and the number of people living that student/worker double life.

    This is the residue of the stated goals to send everyone to college. A lot of the kids are those who in previous generations wouldn't have gone to college. So yes, the opportunity is a great thing, but it's also adding a lot of people to the pool who aren't prepared for it.

    College is considered a standard part of life in most middle-class or above communities, almost an extension of high school. So kids go because A) everyone else is; and B) they can live off their parents for another 4-6 years. But they really aren't equipped for it.
  10. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    Cost is part of it, but a big reason why is students aren't academically prepared/don't care.

    Go to a major residential college, and it seems a significant number are there to party & try to work their way around the system to get a degree (e.g., buying notes, having the pledges go to class for you, test files).

    I teach high school. I can tell that several of my students wouldn't be able to hack college, but our society says "everyone should go," so they go and party for a few years. We do a lousy job in America of preparing students -- we have as much of a need for plumbers and auto mechanics as we do accountants and lawyers. But we say "everyone should be an accountant," so we force everyone -- including those who are not academically-able -- into college prep programs. What happens? We have too many people with degrees in Mauritanian Art working at Starbucks, an even greater number of secretaries and paralegals who maybe started a year of college and dropped out, and not enough plumbers. Meanwhile, the school gets blamed when those not-ready-for-college-prep students fail.

    We have pretty much abandoned vocational training at the high school level, when we could as a society make that available and guide students who don't do well in a traditional academic setting into those programs.

    Only 28% of the population has a degree. And we're the most educated our society has ever been.
  11. Zeke12

    Zeke12 Guest

    I'm really not.

    There were lots of studies about this when I was in college. The number one predictor of not finishing was not attending full time. The number one reason people don't attend full time is financial need to work while they go to school.

    It's a damned straight line.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    For me, it was the beer.
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